Benjamin H. Barton & Deborah L. Rhode

Volume 70, Issue 4, 955-988

This Article explores controversies over bar regulation of new online technologies that help address the routine legal needs of low- and middle-income consumers. It is critical that lawyer regulators resist the temptation to restrict organizations that respond to the nation’s huge unmet needs of individuals of limited means. After briefly reviewing the rise of technology in this space, this Article discusses efforts to rein in three of the largest U.S. providers of consumeroriented legal services, LegalZoom, Rocket Lawyer, and Avvo Legal Services. Analysis then focuses on the lawsuits and regulatory restrictions faced by Avvo, and the ultimate demise of Avvo Legal Services in the face of bar ethical objections. The final Part of this Article considers the policy implications of the Avvo case history, and concludes that efforts to restrain these initiatives do not serve the interests of the profession or the public.